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ATLANTA (Sports Network) - Chris Thompson ran for 147 yards and a touchdown, as 23rd-ranked Florida State pulled out a 26-17 victory over No. 19 South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
E.J. Manuel completed 11-of-15 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown for the Seminoles (10-4) while playing in place of Christian Ponder, who left the game with an injury.
Florida State rebounded from a loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game to give Jimbo Fisher a good ending to his first year as head coach. The Seminoles also won their third consecutive bowl game.
Stephen Garcia passed for 243 yards but threw three interceptions as the Gamecocks (9-5) dropped their third consecutive bowl game.
"Florida State outsmarted us and outplayed us completely in special teams," said South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. "We had the turnovers, didn't give ourselves much of a chance. They played a lot better than we did. They were a better-coached team tonight, simple as that."
South Carolina played much of the contest without running back Marcus Lattimore, who left after taking a hard hit on the game's opening drive.
Seminoles cornerback Greg Reid forced a fumble while hitting Lattimore after a catch, and Lattimore left the game with a cut on his mouth. Spurrier said Lattimore required stitches and went to the hospital because he sustained a "little bit of a concussion."
Reid turned in a huge game overall, forcing two fumbles and totaling 71 return yards.
Florida State got on the board on its ensuing possession, when Dustin Hopkins kicked a 29-yard field goal. Hopkins added a 48-yarder with 2:42 left in the quarter to make it a 6-0 game.
Ponder did not return to the game when the Seminoles took the ball with 7:58 left in the second quarter. He completed just one of his five pass attempts and was sacked once.
Manuel took over and helped Florida State reach the end zone during his second series under center. The Seminoles took over at their own 40 with a little more than two minutes remaining.
Manuel rushed for 32 yards to bring the ball to the South Carolina 27, and two plays later Thompson found the end zone.
There were only 62 seconds on the clock when the Gamecocks got the ball back, but they got on the board before the half was through. Spencer Lanning kicked a 40-yard field goal with time expiring, making it a 13-3 game at the break.
However, Hopkins kicked a 35-yarder on the opening drive of the second half to get the points back.
Reid forced a fumble by receiver Alshon Jeffery on South Carolina's next drive, but the Gamecocks' offense found success later in the quarter. They went 92 yards in 10 plays, and scored on a trick play.
On third down at the FSU three-yard line, Garcia passed to Ace Sanders behind the line of scrimmage on the left side of the field. Garcia then ran into open space on the right side of the end zone, and Sanders hit him in stride. The score got South Carolina within 16-10 with 3:49 left in the frame.
Hopkins added his fourth field goal, a 45-yarder, with nine seconds left. The four successful kicks provided necessary cushion, as South Carolina responded with another touchdown.
Brian Maddox capped the seven-play, 79-yard drive with a seven-yard run up the middle. He fell backward over the goal line with 11:56 on the clock to bring the Gamecocks within two.
But most hopes South Carolina had of completing the comeback ended on Florida State's next possession, when Manuel led the Seminoles on a lengthy touchdown drive. He ran or passed on 10 of the 13 plays, including a seven-yard scoring strike to Taiwan Easterling with 5:27 to go.
"Defenses weren't letting it get out of hand," Fisher said. "I think both defenses did a tremendous job tonight. We just kept scratching and clawing. We played with a lot of toughness, and a lot of will."
The nine-point deficit was too much for the Gamecocks to overcome, especially with so little time left. Florida State forced a turnover on downs on South Carolina's next touch to punctuate the win.